While there are many opportunities to create financial wealth and safety in America, few are as powerful as owning a home. Even with decades of mortgage payments, the relative size of those payments usually declines over time as wages rise but the payments stay flat. Also, home values tend to go up over time, representing another way to secure wealth in a home.
Once a mortgage is paid off, families own their own homes and just have to pay taxes and maintenance, seriously freeing their regular income from one of life’s biggest expenses. The advantages don’t stop there. Multiple law enforcement agencies and municipal governments have learned that crime goes way down in communities where at least a third of the residents own their homes as compared to renting.
Buying a home isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s often the biggest single expense most families will make in their lifetimes. Fortunately, there are many tax breaks homeowners can use to make things more affordable.
- Capital Gains: If you sell your home and profit from it, then capital gains taxes might apply. However, if it was your primary residence, you might be able to keep capital gains without them getting taxed.
- Discount Points: When you get a mortgage, you might get to buy discount points that lower the interest rate applied to the loan. Points you buy to lower the interest rate are tax-deductible.
- Home Equity Loan Interest: This is just like having a second mortgage. You can deduct the interest you pay on a home equity loan if you took the funds for home improvements.
- Home Office Costs: The actual details are up to the IRS on this one, but home office space might get you tax breaks.
- Mortgage Insurance: Also known as PMI or private mortgage insurance, it’s there to give your lender protection if you can’t keep up with mortgage payments. You can itemize the cost of this insurance.
- Mortgage Interest: The mortgage interest deduction lets you lower taxable income if you do an itemized deduction.
- Necessary Improvements: The scope of what is ‘necessary’ is up to the IRS, unfortunately, but certain improvements can qualify as tax deductions.
- Property Taxes: These are often applied at the state and municipal levels. Depending on how you file, you can deduct $5,000 to $10,000 from your federal taxes.